16 October 2010

Fuel shortages

All over France, trains are still running on limited schedules. About half to two-thirds the normal number of high-speed TGVs, standard Corail trains, and regional TER trains are running. But the worst thing is that fuel shortages are starting to be felt.

As Meredith said in a comment yesterday, gas stations around the country are starting to run dry and shut down. The morning news says Roissy/CDG airport only has a couple of days of jet fuel left. Jet fuel, diesel fuel, and fuel oil are all slightly different forms of kerosene. Did you know that more than half the cars sold in France these days have diesel engines? Our little Peugeot is a diesel.

Today was one of those days when you just want to pull the covers up over your head and stay in bed. Not because of the fuel shortages but just because of the miserable weather. I woke up in the 6:00 a.m. darkness to hear the pitty-pat of rain on the Velux windows upstairs. Here it is 8:00 and it's still dark and raining. I have to take Callie out anyway.

Tourangelle, a little pie made with fresh goat cheese
and tomatoes, seen at the Montrichard market

I don't think Saint-Aignan is feeling any of the shortages so far.
I just had to strike that sentence. The porteuse de pain — the bread lady — just came by. She wished me a « bon weekend » and I said « Vous aussi. A mardi alors ! » Tuesday is her next scheduled delivery. « Oui, mardi je passerai s'il y a du gasoil, she answered. Toutes les pompes sont à sec, à Amboise, à Saint-Aignan, partout ! » So the pumps are dry and there's no gasoil — diesel fuel — to be had around here. That was news to me. Luckily the Peugeot's tank is three-quarters full.

Planète Verte is an organic grocery co-op in Montrichard.

Yesterday we went over to the market in Montrichard, the town 10 miles east of us, down the river Cher. There's a nice outdoor market there on Friday mornings, and there's also a co-op grocery where you can buy organic and exotic products you don't find in the outdoor markets or supermarkets. We bought some millet and some corn meal at the co-op, and other things at the outdoor market.

Local tartes and quiches at the market in Montrichard

We're having people over Sunday afternoon — tomorrow, yikes! — for dinner. The plan is to make pumpkin raviolis as an appetizer, and then have a roasted guinea hen with caramelized shallots, along with some oven-roasted winter vegetables, as the main course. Then there will be green salad and cheeses: a Neufchâtel from Normandy, a Saint-Nectaire and a wedge of Cantal from the Auvergne region, a local goat cheese from the farm-inn just up the road, and, if the cheese vendor at Noyers has any on Sunday morning, a blue cheese made from goat's milk that is his specialty. For dessert, Walt plans to make a walnut tart, using some maple syrup we got as a gift from visiting Americans.

Montrichard — Café du Centre, where English-speaking
people gather on Friday mornings, I've heard

Yesterday we bought some local wines for the Sunday dinner. More about those tomorrow.

P.S. Noon: I just came back from SuperU. There were 15 or 16 cars waiting at the pumps to fuel up, where usually there might be three or four. I didn't see any signs about shortages, but if business like that continues it won't be long now.


  1. wow - so we'll all be over for your amazing supper. just tell us what time

    i'd be so obliged if you took a pic of that goat cheese, this future fromager would just love to see it.

    seems the strikes are starting to take effect. arent you so glad you put up so much produce?

  2. Oh, yes, in fact PLEASE take photos of all of that food on Sunday :)) It would be so wonderful to enjoy it from afar :)

    The photos are great today, too, as usual! The tartes! The tourangelle! The café! Tout!

    Happy autumn,

  3. Hey Ken...

    What's this about the fuel shortage??!! Have I NOT been watching the news or am I simply not informed?! I had no idea! Hmmm...

    Have a great time tomorrow with your guests! Sounds like you have a great menu planned...
    Love all your shots of the marché.
    Hope to see you guys soon...

  4. Automotive fuel shortages are often a self-fulfilling prophecy, as everyone rushes out to top off their tanks.

  5. Yikes! I filled up, with unleaded rather than diesel, at the Hypermarche in Carpentras today. No lines or anything there.

    I hope supplies hold out for another week and there's enough jet fuel to get my plane from Marseille to Munich!

    As much as I LOVE Provence, I don't want to stay beyond my scheduled departure.

    It was nice to see the Montrichard pictures!

  6. Ken

    Last night on TV5 I saw that the max purchase at the pump in some areas : 35 Euros -so one can't fill up unless you jump from one station to another.

  7. Your dinner sounds just fabulous. With the ravioli, what sort of sauce do you serve it in? The entire meal is mouth watering. Lucky guests!

  8. The strikes are big news. France is so different from America as far as strikes go. We just wouldn't put up with the disruptions; our government would probably step in, don't you think?
    In my french class on Monday we are to each come with a brief write-up about the french strikes, now I can add a piece about the locals in Saint-Aignan.
    I, too, would love to taste those pumpkin raviolis as well as the remainder of your menu for demain.

  9. Hi Ken, I was at Descartes on Thursday, getting some timber from Weldom ['cos theirs tends to be straight!] and then went to the Intermarché to get some McVities digestive biscuits [now available in French packaging]. I followed a tanker into the carpark... no cars waiting for fuel, just one elderly van filling up.
    I purchased the bix and walked back out to the car.... I had to drive out the wrong way as there were cars double bank queued out onto the road. The delivery guy hadn't even started to unload!
    People must have been telephoning from their cars... or had been following the tanker?

    The 'human' word is "frigual" which is what we'll have to be with our fuel! Fortunately, the '56 2CV does about 60mpg [425cc engines do have their uses.]

  10. The tourangelle look very yummy. Are they made as simply as I guess--tomato and chevre on a small crust, then into the oven for a bit? Anything else?

    I second the other requests for picture of your Sunday feast.

  11. Ken, Stephen and I are so grateful that your blog interprets what is happening in France re the industrial action. Your blog explains without media hype what is happening. So far we have been affected by some road blockades and protest marches but the fuel situation is most important as we are now so far south. Please continue to report the local situation as we have been watching France 2 as suggested but as you know our French is so limited we have relied on your blog and BBC reports. Thank you. We so enjoyed meeting you and Walt.

  12. Best of luck to you and S. Hope the fuel crisis does not become a problem. And I hope S. got his passport back.

  13. Emm, we didn't get one of those Tourangelle pies but we will do so the next time we go to the Montrichard market. I think the Tourangelle is a simple as it looks. Fresh goat cheese, fresh tomato, maybe some herbs, and a nice pie crust.

    John, all the talk of fuel shortages plays right into the strikers' hands, because it automatically comes true when the media start saying it.

    Mary, the French government is starting to intervene. I heard the Prime Minister defining the terms this morning on the TV news: workers' and employees' right to strike is sacrosanct, but blocking access to a service station, for example, is illegal. I guess that's been happening in some places.

    Tim and Beaver, thanks for the information about current events in France. I haven't (yet) seen signs specifying a maximum purchase at the pump. But then I haven't needed to fill up.

    OFG, Judy, Gabby, Leesa, Chris, thanks for the comments. Gabby, the sauce is butter, sage, and walnuts. Walt blogged about it.

  14. We are due to arrive in Blois on Saturday for a week's tuoring in the Loire Valley. What;s the chances of making it through the week and then returning to Dippe for the ferry?


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